Most of my life, I’ve had some kind of pet. One of my earliest memories is of a cat walking across the floor in front of me when I was maybe two or three years old. My mother told that we had a cat and she had kittens, and she “got mean” – which probably means that she was scared I was going to hurt the babies and hissed or swatted at me. My dad never particularly liked cats, so they got rid of the cat and her kittens.
The next pet I remember was when I was in about third grade, we got a black cat named Midnight. She was an outstanding cat. She would let me dress her up in doll clothes and push her down the street in my pram. I wish I had a picture of that! She would walk on a leash, and we’d take her camping with her. Once, she was on the dashboard of the camper and a service station attendant was cleaning the windshield. She moved and he jumped! He thought she was a stuffed animal until she moved.
We still had Midnight when my dad brought home my one and only dog, a beagle mix that I named, of course, Snoopy. Midnight thought he was her personal toy. He’d go toddling through the house, and she’d wait for him and pounce. She never hurt him, and he never seemed to mind. He would go camping with us, too. What a sight I must have been, walking a dog and a cat on leashes at the same time. Snoopy occasionally suffered from motion sickness, as did I. My dad tied a piece of rope on the back bumper, so that it just touched the ground, and he told me it would help. Make of it what you will, but it seemed to work for both me and my dog.
When we were living in Charleston, one day we found a young possum in the garbage can. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you may recall that my Pap-pa’s dog used to tree possums, and Pap-pa would sometimes go and get the possum and bring it home and put it in the trash can to scare the youngster. We loved to tease Pap-pa that I didn’t have to go get the possum; Snoopy brought it home and put it in the trash can for me.
One time, we were all the back yard in Pensacola, when I saw Snoopy looking at something in a slightly wooded area. It was a baby blue jay. Being creative, I named him (or her, but I’ll just say him) Jay Blue. We fed him hamburger meat and bread softened in milk until he was old enough to release. Our plan was to take him to my grandparents’ home in Midway, which was a bit more rural back then, in the early 1970s. Sadly, the cat we had at the time (I don’t think it was Midnight; it might have been Duchess), reached her paw through the cage and injured him, and he died before he could return home to the wild.
Duchess could never sheath her claws. My dad would get mad, because I would get scratched while we were playing. I never cared, but he was protective. She was a beautiful cat, white with a few multi-colored spots, so I guess she was technically a calico. I wrote a song for her once. The lyrics were in a notebook that got stolen at school, but I remember a little bit of it. “Purple iris to match your gray spots, orange roses to match your ears, something something, kitten, you are so dear.”
Anyway, my parents took Duchess away to the farm. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but there really was a farm in Walnut Hill, belonging to my Uncle Zeb Allison. I’m told she would sit in his lap and he would pet her and she had a good life.
Somewhere along the way, we had another baby blue jay called, again very creatively, Jay Blue Two. He survived, and was released in Midway. My grandparents said that, for a long time, he would come back to the house regularly to visit.
I also had, for a very brief time, a hog-nosed snake and later, a glass snake (which is a type of lizard). We caught them in the yard, but let them go after a few days because it’s more complicated to feed snakes.
When I wasn’t allowed to have larger pets Snoopy went to live with my grandparents in Midway. Once, I’m told, he got really sick and my Mam-ma babied him and kept him alive, because she didn’t want to have to tell me that he died. There, he chased the only cat that he ever chased, which was my cousins’ cat Ebony. No other cat would run from him, but she did, so, he chased her.
I often had minnows that I would catch with a small net down at Mam-ma and Pap-pa’s house. Mam-ma would give me an old brown jar that coffee creamer came in (perhaps Cremora brand, but I’m not positive), and I would keep them in the jar and sometimes release them before I came home, and sometimes I would bring them home and keep them in a fish bowl. I had one that tried to escape and landed on the floor flopping around. As I finally got hold of him, he kind of wrenched himself, and when I put him back in the water he was bent. After that, I called him Boomerang. I took him to the vet, who said that fish have a balance line of some kind, and that was probably out of whack. He was bent for the rest of his life, although he did get a little better over time.
There was a tiny black crab I named Apache Tear. Another minnow called Barracuda the Killer Fish, because everything else in the tank with him died (I’m not sure if I still had Apache Tear at the time, but I know I had some sort of little shrimp and at least one other fish).
We had more birds, and mice, and many more cats. I wish I had more photos, and the ones I do have still need to be scanned.
But, I can show you the two cats I have now – Kali Malicious and Pippin. I cannot imagine my life without my little furry babies.
I also have had many pets and I am am thankful for each of them.